Saturday, March 20, 2010

Some money saving advice

Well, it only applies to Netflix users.

I'm always curious about others' experience with Netflix, and tonight I googled "is netflix worth it."

On this website - A site called Thrifty Fun and page is called "Is Netflix worth it?" - there is a reply from someone who loves the streaming (as do I, though I can't wait until subtitles/CC are available on all of them!) and is thinking of buying the 100 US$ device, but is worried that when technology changes (as is its wont), the box may be useless.

I thought about this (not the obsolescence, but the price) and I realized that our TV is pretty new (bought in Fall 2007 or after) and hey, my laptop has this thing and so does the TV, maybe they can be hooked up!

A quick googling later, and yes, they can. I even called Netflix to make sure it was kosher. (Maybe the wouldn't play, I don't know.)

I bought a TV this week (HD! a remote! CC available!) for only 150 US$. It's not tiny, about 15 inches, but it is easier to carry than the old one Goodwill will probably throw out soon. That one was 3rd hand - my sister's friend had it, than my sister, than I took it. It had 2000 etched on the back, among the other technological info, so it wasn't that old. It had an attached VCR that declared it was dying by, you know, eating tapes (FSM bless CDs and DVDs!). It had no remote. But what was bad was the volume was iffy, and hitting the down button under the word volume could lead to a number of things - making the channel go down, nothing, putting up some bizarre menu or something that required turning off the TV, and sometimes making the volume go down. It did have a major plus (my new one has this too) - I could hook up headphones and watch Bollywood into the wee hours on a screen smaller than my laptop, but dammit, it was on the TV without bothering anyone.

Now your TV needs a VGA port

And I think many new ones do - probably for video games. It also needs a headphone jack or anything saying audio in.

Then you get yourself a VGA cord or cable and an audio cable that goes from the headphone jack on your computer to the audio in on the TV. This is much cheaper than any streaming device (unless you already have the video game system that plays them in which case never mind) - I think I paid maybe $30 at RadioShack, and I needed their help because I got the wrong cord for the audio - the image showed up, but no sound.

I think Netflix is worth it, but I have a relatively new passion in my life that revolves around movies - Bollywood and foreign films. I think Netflix is best if you're a so-called "niche" viewer like me, and the turnaround is so cool. When I get an apologetic e-mail because a movie will be late, it arrives a day later or maybe 2 days later than the other ones. The horror! I send it in on Monday, I get an e-mail on Tuesday, and I have new movies on Wednesday. Even if it took an extra day, it would still be worth it to me because I get to try out so many movies without paying for them and regretting it (looking at you Maqbool and Mohabbatein - at least the latter has SRK, Aish, and pretty songs!). It would not be worth it for my mom, though she "requests" some movies, "if you don't mind" (I don't). If we end up living together as some wacky single ladies in the pacific northwest, we'll probably share the account. Or she'll tell me about some movie she may want to see, can you look it up for me? I've seen posts at BollyWhat from people sharing with non-Bollywood fans and those people are none to pleased with the changed recommendations or the Bollywood all over both Instant and regular queues.

RedBox seems to risky for me - if I didn't want to see it in theaters, I can wait. If I loved it enough when I did see it in theaters, I can buy it. Plus, it's all machine. Too many people have been billed because the machine never read the movie as turned in. And it just seems a waste of money - a dollar a night, what if you forget? Yes, if I hold on to my movies for a couple weeks, I'm not using my plan (3 at a time) to the fullest, but I still get charged the same amount a month.

And RedBox has a shitty foreign selection. Bah.

So my point is, if anyone reads this - I am no computer expert, but I was able to do this. Just some googling and some helpful people at the store is all you need, knowledge-wise. And a laptop, or a TV right next to the desktop.

And they had an adapter if your TV didn't have a VGA port, but it costs as much as a Netflix box. So meh.

One reason I'm really excited about my new TV is that over the summer break, I can watch Instant movies on my TV in my bed (like I'll be up there in that oven!). No, I think what we buy (or inherit/swipe from the house) in college is often our furniture in our first post-college place. And I don't need a big place, I don't have a big TV, but it has a remote*, and can be hooked up to my laptop.

Two shiny toys in one semester. Okay, my laptop isn't as shiny because of fingerprints, and I swear I will either take it with or me or order a cover from HP's site. Or I could do what I did with my old one and slap stickers all over it. The big Obama bumper sticker helped a lot. Also, it was a different material.

ETA - forgot the link, after I went through the trouble of describing it!

And I forgot to finish my thought.

*The TV we had for the longest time did not have a remote. It was huge and I loved it, but remotes are recent things for the TVs in our house - the VCR, DVD players, and cable boxes all had remotes, but you still had to... get up... to turn it on or off. And I don't remember if the cable volume buttons always worked.

So I'm like some stereotypical post-Communism girl going "real blue jeans!" I remember this from some YA book about Romania set pre-dissolution and pre-Ceau┼čescu's death. (I learned about him from a comic. Nasty fellow.)

Remote controls - despite the fact that I was born in '88 - have not been a big part of my TV life, especially those stretches without cable. The one we had in Iceland in 92-94, we kept until it died a few years back. Or we got rid of it. Anyways, no remote (and not much selection up on top of the world), but hooked up to cable or DVD, remote.

And for the last two and a half years, I've had a remote for my DVD player (only bought last spring) and nothing for the TV. With the shaky volume control, and my laziness/pain, it could make turning on the TV a pain in the ass, because I couldn't just mute it when done. I do have headphones that hooked up like I said, so I could leave it on with them plugged in and turned off (so as to not waste the battery). I spent the first semester (a relatively pain-free one) putting the heavy TV on an old TV table (meant for dinners, folded up nicely beside my bed) and plugging in my mp3 player headphones, so I was a foot away from the TV! Not my brightest moment, considering we had the headphones that let you move at home before then. (You can mow the lawn and listen to pandora if you're like my mom and not comfortable with portable music players. Plus, they could get sweaty or died green, like mowing shoes.)

I'm painfree, should be asleep, and chatty as all get out.

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